We train using: Theological Education by Extension (TEE).
So what is Theological Education by Extension? Overall, Theological Education by Extension has been, and continues to be an effective method of making sound theological education available to church leaders and members. TEE recognizes that it is not possible for everyone to attend a residential college as many church leaders are married and support themselves through a secular job. TEE also fundamentally recognizes that everyone is uniquely equipped with spiritual gifts and is called to the ministry of God’s church. Therefore, we have an interest in assisting through training, everyone that God called into ministry. TEE is a form of distant learning, but different from other forms such as correspondence course and home study. TEE has ‘three pillars’ that makes it unique or distinct: 1.) self study; 2.) tutorials; 3.) practical work. The fundamental idea of the self study is learning through self-discovery. This is achieved through self-instructional course material which performs the function of the teacher and replaces him. The Group Study or Tutorial meets weekly or bi-weekly and is meant to facilitate discussion, sharing of problems, raising and responding to questions. They also provide fellowship and inspiration, as experience has shown that the group discussions also regularly include theological/spiritual reflections on other relevant life issues. They further aid the integration of theoretical knowledge into practical application of ministry. The group study is crucial because it has a bearing on the effectiveness of the other two pillars (self study and practical work). Without the tutorials, TEE becomes merely a correspondence course which is in danger of remaining purely academic.
In order for the tutorials to be effective there is a need for good facilitation. The facilitator’s task is mainly to initiate and facilitate discussion, stimulate interest, and guide the learners to explore further the lesson they have learnt. By default TEEM relays on the churches of Malawi to identify suitable facilitators that can be used to run the courses. This reflects our basic understanding that TEEM does not own these programs, but that the training of the laity and the continuation of learning of the clergy is a joined program between the churches and TEEM.
The third pillar is practical work. The lessons learnt from the self-study should be relevant to the ministry of the churches, or to the ministry that the student is already involved with and in which he uses his gifts. The student should be attached to a particular Church Ministry, where they will put into practice what they have learnt and bring back experiences and practical lessons from there to share in the tutorial. The practical work is important because the whole focus of TEE is to prepare people for ministry in the church.
Click here for an introduction in our first course: CBT Certificate in Basic Theology